A man who obtained and sold relatives' and friends' versions of the New England Patriots' Super Bowl LI rings meant for Tom Brady was charged with fraud Monday and agreed to plead guilty to five felony charges that could bring him a maximum of 92 years in prison, federal prosecutors announced Monday.
The scheme by 24-year-old Scott Spina of Roseland, N.J., reached back to 2017, when he bought a Super Bowl ring from a former Patriots player, paying him with at least one bad check, and then sold the ring for $63,000 to an Orange County, Calif., sports memorabilia broker. The purchase of that ring, according to the U.S. attorney's office for the Central District of California, allowed Spina, via a password and user name, to purchase Super Bowl rings that are slightly smaller than players' rings for family and friends.
"Spina then called the Ring Company, fraudulently identified himself as [the former player], and started ordering three family and friend Super Bowl LI rings with the name 'Brady' engraved on each one, which he falsely represented were gifts for the baby of quarterback Tom Brady," the criminal information cited by U.S. attorney's office stated. "The rings were at no time authorized by Tom Brady. Defendant Spina intended to obtain the three rings by fraud and to sell them at a substantial profit."
He allegedly did just that, with the Orange County broker agreeing to buy the three rings, which Spina then claimed had been for Brady's nephews, for $81,500, which was three times what Spina paid for them. However, the buyer began to believe that Brady had no nephews and tried to pull out of the deal. (Brady does indeed have nephews and nieces.) That same day in November 2017, Spina received and immediately sold the rings, which commemorate the Patriots' February 2017 comeback victory over the Atlanta Falcons, to an auction house for $100,000. In February 2018 one fetched $337,219, according to the U.S. attorney's office, at auction.
This isn't the first time a bit of Brady memorabilia from Super Bowl LI ended up making headlines. Moments after Super Bowl LI ended, his No. 12 jersey was stolen from the Patriots' locker room by a member of the Mexican media in a heist that Patriots owner Robert Kraft likened to "taking a great Chagall or Picasso." It was tracked down around two months later with the help of a 19-year-old sports memorabilia collector and Patriots fan.
Spina pleaded guilty in a plea agreement filed Monday in U.S. District Court to one count of mail fraud, three counts of wire fraud and one count of aggravated identity theft, the U.S. attorney's office said. When the pleas are formally entered, he will face a statutory maximum penalty of 92 years in federal prison, but the actual sentence will be "substantially less" under the U.S. sentencing guidelines and other statutory factors.
Spina admitted defrauding the Orange County ring broker when he falsely claimed that the rings "were ordered for Tom Brady directly from [the Ring Company] for select family members," the U.S. attorney's office stated. He admitted to defrauding this victim with three wire transfers for the deposit on the rings and to identity theft by posing as a former Patriots player to buy the rings.
He agreed to pay restitution to the former Patriots player who sold his Super Bowl ring and other memorabilia and will make his first court appearance Jan. 31 in Los Angeles.